Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Being a teacher in old-time Phoenix

Although I wrote "teacher" for many years on my income taxes, I never really considered myself a real teacher. I taught graphic design and computer software at a private college (the Art Institute of Phoenix) and at Glendale Community College. I walked in, turned on a computer and projector, and then stood back while the students worked on their projects in the labs, later did some grading, and really not much more. I thought of myself as an instructor, a trainer.

To me, real teachers are K through high school. They get my respect, and I would never begin to try to place myself in their category. These are true heroes, who deserve so much more than society is willing to give them, both financially and in respect. And as a time-traveler, I wonder about what it would have been like to have been a teacher in old-time Phoenix.

The photo at the top of this post is from 1892. It shows the Phoenix Grade School (which was at 9th Street and Washington) students and their teacher, Professor Wallom. What catches my eye right away is that he is a male teacher, which was very unusual for the time, and that he is called a Professor, not just Mister. Nowadays Professor is only used for the highest-ranking teachers in a college, but it's possible that the term was used differently in those days. I don't know. I had a few students sometimes call me "Professor", which always made me smile. I really wasn't a Professor, I was a "shop teacher", and proud to be, teaching a useful profession to students who could put it to work when they graduated.

Phoenix would have been a good place to have access to teachers, because of the teacher's college in Tempe, which is now called Arizona State University. For decades it specialized in teaching teachers. If you Google the Tempe Normal School you'll find out more about it.

And if you're a serious fan of Phoenix history, take a look at the names of some of the kids in the photo up there and they'll look familiar. Whether these kids are related to those famous names I don't really know, but Phoenix was a pretty small town in 1892, so chances are good that they were. My best guess, by the way, is that Minnie (number 30) is the daughter of the teacher. Small town.

Thank you for visiting my class in old-time Phoenix! No, there won't be a test.

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